August 10, 2011
Book Review: An Object of Beauty
I recently read An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. Mary Katherine first read this book & LOVED IT, so when she brought it to Book Swap, I grabbed it. It's a pretty short book, so I read it really fast. It's generously spaced & has lots of short chapters, so you'll fly through it, or at least I did.
The main character is Lacy Yeager, a young Manhattanite climbing her way up through the art world. She starts her career at Sotheby's & goes on to become an art dealer. Even though I lived in NYC, I have little to no experience in this world, so the inside look into NY's art scene was fascinating to me. Lacy is one of those bad-girl protagonists that you find yourself enamored with & living vicariously through. Oddly, Lacy's story isn't told by Lacy, but by her male friend, Daniel. If you forced me to voice a complaint about this book, this would be it: Daniel as the narrator of Lacy's story tripped me up a lot, especially at the end.
Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale. Lacey Yeager is an ambitious young art dealer who uses everything at her disposal to advance in the world of the high-end art trade in New York City. After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, she manipulates her way up through Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings," sleeping with patrons, and dodging and indulging in questionable deals, possible felonies, and general skeeviness until she opens her own gallery in Chelsea. Narrated by Lacey's journalist friend, Daniel Franks, whose droll voice is a remarkable stand-in for Martin's own, the world is ordered and knowable, blindly barreling onward until 9/11. And while Lacey and the art she peddles survive, the wealth and prestige garnered by greed do not. Martin (an art collector himself) is an astute miniaturist as he exposes the sound and fury of the rarified Manhattan art world. If Shopgirl was about the absence of purpose, this book is about the absence of a moral compass, not just in the life of an adventuress but for an entire era.
I really liked this book & highly recommend it. Four stars!